US 8015109 B2
The present invention provides methods and systems for defining financial transaction components; defining mapping rules for taking individual financial transactions and breaking them down into their components, such as production services, billing services and settlement services. A data processing system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, creates a transaction instance corresponding to a financial transaction, creates a production service instance linked to the transaction instance by a first relation instance, and creates a billing service instance linked to the production service instance by a second relation instance. The data processing system, may also create other production service instances linked to the transaction instance using other relation instances, as well as, other billing service instances linked to the production service instances.
1. A data processing system including instances of data objects referred to as entities and relations, the data processing system comprising:
a transaction analysis subsystem which performs a transaction analysis by breaking down an instance of a transaction entity into instances of component entities present in the instance of the transaction, according to mapping rules among the component entities and the transaction, each mapping rule being a relation;
one or more price tables stored in a storage device of the data processing system associating the instances of the component entities to monetary values; and
a price calculation subsystem which operates cooperatively with the transaction analysis subsystem and which assigns, during the course of the transaction analysis, a monetary value to the instance of the transaction according to the price tables associated with the component entities, using the mapping rules.
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The present application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/370,940, filed on Feb. 20, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,664,696, which is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/535,573, filed on Mar. 27, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,127,420, issued on Oct. 24, 2006, which is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/904,716, filed on Aug. 1, 1997, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,052,672, issued on Apr. 18, 2000.
Appendix A, which is a part of the present disclosure, is a microfiche appendix consisting of four (4) sheets of microfiche having a total of 321 frames. Microfiche Appendix A is a listing of Software code for embodiments of components of this invention, which are described more completely below.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to data processing systems and, in particular, to pricing and analysis systems for complex transactions.
2. Discussion of Related Art
Financial services companies (FSCs), such as retail banks, wholesale banks, corporate banks and investment banks, provide a variety of financial services which are bundled together and offered to clients as financial products. Checking accounts, cash management accounts, mortgages, funds transfers and lockboxes are all examples of financial products. A financial transaction takes place when a client uses a financial service and when a FSC provides a financial service.
In a competitive market, FSCs have to balance their need to grow market share by having competitive (i.e. low) fee arrangements, against the need to run their businesses profitably (i.e. with high margins). Managing this balancing act has been a challenge for FSCs because the traditional practices used by FSCs provide insufficient detail about how individual financial transactions affect their profitability. With insufficient details FSCs are not able to provide consistent and reconcilable measures for different views of costs and fees which may be desired. FSCs would desire views such as a client view because the business is conducted by clients, a market segment view because the business is measured by market segments, and a financial product view because the business is organized by financial products.
Costs can vary greatly based on the types of financial transactions being processed and characteristics of each individual financial transaction. For example, in funds transfers, costs can vary based on the participant (corporate, retail, correspondent, broker/dealer); the instruction (free form, semi repetitive, pre programmed); the timing (start of day, end of day, urgent, late); the instrument (cash, checks, payment orders, electronic instruction capture devices); the delivery system (SWIFT); the clearing system; settlement itself; credit/risk (daylight overdraft limits, balances, secured/unsecured debit caps); applicable transaction taxes; investigations; and compensations. Failure by a FSC to understand or accurately measure the cost of processing each individual financial transaction makes it very difficult for the FSC to manage the impact of their pricing arrangements on the profitability of their financial services, financial products and financial transactions.
Fees can also vary greatly based on the types of financial transactions being processed and characteristics of each individual financial transaction. For example, in funds transfers, fee arrangements can be based on time of submission; a specified execution time; the window of time between submission and execution; transaction value; pre-assigned payment slots; or a combination of these factors. Furthermore, fee arrangements may change over time both in value and structure in response to competitive situations.
To manage the profitability outcomes of financial services, financial products and financial transactions, a FSC needs to understand and accurately measure fees earned based on each individual financial transaction processed. Furthermore, FSCs wish to manage fee arrangements and special deals based on the profit margins achievable.
However, understanding and accurately measuring the impact of costs and fee arrangements on the profitability of financial services, financial products and financial transactions is too complex to be handled in an ad hoc manner. Therefore, a systematic method to track all of the components of costs and fees each time a financial transaction is processed is needed. Furthermore, the system should be able to measure profitability in a flexible manner and to measure the impact of any changes from as many views as the FSC's business requires, e.g., by financial product, by financial service, by financial transaction, by client account, by client, by group of clients, by market segment, and by region, by strategic business unit.
Accordingly, the present invention includes methods and systems for defining financial transaction components; defining mapping rules for taking individual financial transactions; and breaking financial transactions into components, such as production services, billing services and settlement services. A FSC, using embodiments of the present invention, can track components, assign costs to components, assign fees to components, measure profitability of financial transactions from multiple views, and measure the impact of changes to costs and fees on profitability of financial transactions from multiple views.
Specifically, a data processing system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, creates a transaction instance corresponding to a financial transaction, creates a production service instance linked to the transaction instance by a first relation instance, and creates a billing service instance linked to the production service instance by a second relation instance. The data processing system, may also create other production service instances linked to the transaction instance using other relation instances, as well as, other billing service instances linked to the production service instances.
A data processing system in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, includes account instances which are linked to transaction instances. The account instances may also be related to client instances. Furthermore, the data processing system may include price table instances related to an entity instance, such as a transaction instance, an account instance, a client instance, or a department instance. The price table instances contain prices for various billing service instances.
According to the principles of this invention, certain limitations imposed by conventional pricing systems have been overcome. The present invention provides a data processing system which breaks down a client transaction into various components provided by the FSC. Conversion to components is not a simple task because each transaction requires analysis at an “atomic level” of detail which has not been used before. This atomic level of detail allows a FSC to determine the cost of each individual financial transaction, in component parts, which in turn, enables the FSC to determine an appropriate fee which should be charged so that the FSC can make an informed choice to balance the need for low fees against the need for high margins, resulting in better managed profitability outcomes.
By using flexible mapping rules between transactions and services, the present invention allows FSCs to easily monitor the costs of transactions involving multiple services by client, by financial product, by market segment or by any other view which a FSC deems necessary. Thus, the same principles can be applied to easily monitor the billing of clients when fees are used instead of costs. The same principles can be applied to easily monitor the profitability for processing transactions when both costs and fees are included.
A suitable database system for implementing a data processing system in accordance with the present invention is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899 entitled “DATA RELATIONSHIPS PROCESSOR WITH UNLIMITED EXPANSION CAPABILITY,” which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. However, other database systems can be used to implement a data processing system using the principles described herein. For clarity, the language of U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899 is used herein. Thus various elements of the pricing system are described as entity types while other elements are described as relation types. Occurrences of an entity type are described as entity instances while occurrences of a relation type are described as relation instances.
Production services are the individual actions that the FSC must perform or that the FSC wishes to count to process the transaction completely. Some production services may involve a cost to the FSC some production services my involve a fee which can be charged and some production services may involve actions which the FSC simply wishes to count. For example, in funds transfers, production services can be based on the participant (corporate, retail, correspondent, broker/dealer); the instruction (free form, semi repetitive, pre programmed); the timing (start of day, end of day, urgent, late); the instrument (cash, checks, payment orders, electronic instruction capture devices); the delivery system (SWIFT); the clearing system; settlement itself; credit/risk (daylight overdraft limits, balances, secured/unsecured debit caps); applicable transaction taxes; or investigations and compensations. Each production services is categorized into at least one production service type, which is also an entity type.
When a transaction of transaction type 110 occurs the data processing systems creates relations instances and production services as dictated by the mapping rules shown in
If the data processing system of U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899 is used, transaction instance 111, production service instance 131, production service instance 151, and production service instance 171, which are all entity instances, would be stored in one or more entity instance tables. Conversely, relation instance 121, relation instance 141, and relation instance 161 would be stored in one or more relation instance tables.
Mapping rules for transaction types may also depend on the value of the transaction. For example, the value of a transaction may determine whether an overdraft approval is required to process the transaction. If an overdraft approval is required, an overdraft production service is included. Furthermore, overdraft approval for a small amount of money may involve different production services than one for a large amount of money. Thus if production service type 170 represents an overdraft production some transactions instances of transaction type 110 need not include a production service instance of production service type 170.
In embodiments of the data processing system using multi-tailed relations such as those described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899, a single relation type can map one entity type to one of several entity types. Thus as shown in
Production services are further mapped into billing services. Typically, billing services represent activities which involve costs to the FSC and or activities which involve fees to be charged. One or more billing service may be associated with one or more production service.
Some embodiments of the data processing system allow mapping of production services to other production services.
A production service may at times be mapped to different sets of billing services. For example, a FSC formed by the merger of two FSC may have had different contracts with the same client. The client may insist on getting the best price the client would have received from either of the premerged FSCs. Furthermore, using multiple mapping rules for production service types facilitates having different views as described above. An example mapping rule for a production service type 510 is given in
In some FSCs, the cost of multiple production services are calculated together. Thus in some embodiments of the data processing system, multiple production service instances are mapped to one or more billing service instances.
Thus, if a transaction instance is mapped to a group of production service instances which includes a production service instance of production service type 611, a production service instance of production service type 612, and a production service instance of production service type 613, the data processing system creates a billing service instance of billing service type 621, a billing service instance of billing service type 622, and a billing service instance of billing service type 623 related to the production service instances by a relation instance of relation type 630. In addition the data processing system creates a billing service instance of billing service type 640 related to the set of production service instances by a relation instance of relation type 650. Furthermore, the data processing system creates a billing service instance of billing service type 660 and a billing service instance of billing service type 690 related to the billing service instance of billing service type 640 by a relation instance of relation type 670 and a relation instance of relation type 680, respectively.
To effectively analyze the transactions, production services and billing services the data processing system also relates the transaction instances and therefore the production service instances and billing service instances, which are related to the transaction instances as described above, to clients, accounts, products, and/or market segments. Initially, client instances are created in the data process system to represent clients. Similarly, account instances are created to represent accounts at the FSC. Client instances and account instances would be entity instances in the database system of U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899.
The actual cost and or the actual fee for a billing service type is recorded in a price table instance which is usually related to the department managing the product, the client, the account, or any other entity instance to which the transaction instance can be related either directly or indirectly.
Whether a transaction, account, or client is related to a price table instance depends on whether the FSC and the client has negotiated a specific fee structure for the transaction, account or client. For example, if the FSC and the client has negotiated special prices to perform a specific transaction, the transaction instance representing that transaction is related to a price table instance representing the negotiated prices. Similarly, a price table instance is used with an account instance or client instance, if the FSC has a specific price structure for the account or client, respectively. The same principles can be applied to provide custom pricing based on billing service type and billing service type within account instances. As explained above since price tables may be shared by multiple transactions, accounts, or clients; a specific transaction instance, account instance, or client instance may be related to more than one price table instance when custom pricing is needed. Thus, for example, account instance 730 may also be related to a custom price table by a relation instance of a “custom rules” relation type. The custom price table contains pricing information which supersedes pricing information in price table instance 737.
Compound queries can be used to determine the appropriate price table instance as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899. Thus, if the FSC wishes to determine the cost of servicing the client represented by client instance 710, the FSC can query the data processing system to find all the billing service instances, including billing service instances 770, used by the client. The data processing system begins by finding account instances, such as account instance 730 and account instance 720 (
Typically, as each billing service instance is tallied, the cost or fee for the billing service instance is retrieved from only one price table instance. Generally, if a price table instance is associated with the transaction instance containing the billing service type of the billing service instance, that price table instance is used. Then the price table instance associated with the account instance, the client instance, and the department instance are used. Finally, if none of the other price tables contain the billing service type, the global price table instance is used. Thus if a billing service instance in billing service instances 770 is being tallied, the data base system attempts to price the billing service instance by using price table instance 757. If the billing service type is not in price table instance 757, the database system uses price table instance 737, then price table instance 717, then price table instance 787, and finally the global price table instance until the price of the billing service type is located. However, FSCs may choose to use other access schemes by using compound queries to choose specific price table instances to use.
In some embodiments of the data processing system, price table instances include both costs and fees. In other embodiments, cost table instances which only contain costs and fee table instances which only contain fees are used. In some embodiments of the database system, each fee table instances must be related to a cost table instance. The presence of the cost table instance can be mandated by using mandatory properties on a relation instance relating the fee table instance to a cost table instance.
The FSC can also further refine queries by categorizing the transactions by other criteria such as market segments. As shown in
The data processing system can be enhanced to include functions of a billing system by including settlement services. Settlement services represent methods to collect the fees for a transaction from the client. For example, different settlement service types include sending a bill to the client, offsetting interest from a client's account for the fee, and deducting the fee from a client's account.
During a billing cycle, typically monthly, the data processing system processes each transaction to create transaction instances, production service instances, billing service instances, and settlement service instances, as described above. At the end of the billing cycle, the FSC can query the data processing system for all of the settlement service instances of a particular client to collect the appropriate fee in the appropriate manner from the client. However the FSC must insure that the data processing system does not overcharge the client by including fees which are already settled in another manner. For example, in “deduct-fee” transactions, the FSC's fee is included in the transaction amount. For example, a FSC may charge $10 to transfer $1,000 from a client's account in Texas to an account in California. The FSC would deduct $1,010 from the account in Texas but only credit $1,000 to the account in California. These “deduct fee” transactions can be marked by using relation instances of a special “deduct fee” relation type to relate a transaction instance to production service instances, or to relate a production service instance to billing service instances, or to relate a billing service instance to settlement service instances, or by using “deduct fee” billing service types, or by using “deduct fee” settlement service types.
Once the data processing for the client includes enough transactions, the FSC can analyze the cost incurred to maintain the client. As explained above, the FSC can use complex queries to retrieve the billing service instances used by the client and related price tables to determine the cost of maintaining the client. Once the cost is determined, the FSC can renegotiate the contract with the client so that the fees charged to the client can better reflect the cost required to support the client.
Furthermore, as explained above, the various transactions can be linked to entity instances representing various categories that the FSC may track. Thus, by using a data processing system in accordance with the present invention a FSC is able to track the costs and fees of its operations by any criteria defined by the FSC. A specific embodiment of a data processing system in accordance with the present invention for use with the database system of U.S. Pat. No. 5,604,899 is provided in Appendix A.
In the various embodiments of this invention, methods and structures have been described that eliminate the difficulties in pricing complex financial transactions. By mapping transactions into production services and billing services a FSC can track the cost of performing the services required by client. Thus a data processing system in accordance with the present invention allows a FSC to accurately measure the profitability of the FSC as well as analyze the business of the FSC by various market segments or other categories.
The various embodiments of the structures and methods of this invention that are described above are illustrative only of the principles of this invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular embodiments described. In view of this disclosure, those skilled-in-the-art can define other transaction types, production service types, billing service types, price tables, data processing systems, settlement service types, mapping rules, relation types, and use these alternative features to create a method, circuit, or system according to the principles of this invention.